Write an Op-Ed, Get Published, and Land on the News
Are some things obvious to you that others don’t seem to understand? Do you often believe that if only you can get your thoughts out there, people might change their minds? Sometimes it doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to crack the case, but maybe you’re just the one for the job.
Let’s answer the riddle of how you can shape your thoughts so people can’t keep their hands off them.
An Op-Ed, shorthand for Opposite the Editorial, is an opinion piece. Episode 8 of the Lead Your Future Podcast will give you the invaluable insights from Beverly Hallberg, Director of District Media Group, on how to maximize your exposure.
In order to successfully write an Op-Ed, you should know its anatomy. After we dissect topic, contents, and follow-through, you’ll find all the puzzle pieces you need to take your ideas public.
Before you dive in, you need a worthy topic. It’s easy to find something worth writing about, but finding one worth reading can be much more of a challenge.
A good topic for an Op-Ed is one that is:
1. Timely: It fits the news and is relevant enough right now that a wide audience would seek it out.
2. Meaningful: Choose a topic that you care about. People will feel your passion (or lack thereof) through your writing.
3. Well-founded: We all have opinions, but they won’t mean much if you can’t support them. Choose a topic you can lend credibility to in your work. You’ll be thankful you did.
With these three boxes checked, you’re ready to ask the question: how do I actually start writing?
An Op-Ed is a gateway to bigger and better work. This is where you can show off your writing abilities and show your reader you mean business. Harvard’s Communications and Government Department has a structure you can follow to tackle your next case:
1. The perp: Reel the audience in with a good hook, give them a basic run down of your topic, and establish your goals and overall point.
2. The hole: Explain the central issue.
3. The patch: Break down your solution, how it works, and why.
4. The competition: What do other people say who disagree with you?
5. The call to arms: Remind me why you’re writing and drive it home so that the reader won’t soon forget!
With these five elements, you’ll lead the reader right where you want them.
Great! You’re done writing, but you’ve only just begun! An Op-Ed is a gateway to bigger and better work so it’s time to aim higher.
The next step is to follow the news closely so you catch every relevant idea you can. Be an avid reader and develop your point of view, network, and credibility. Don’t forget upcoming and seasonal events like presidential debates, the 4th of July, and other “evergreen areas” that you can use as a framework. Build the habits of success.
Most importantly: Don’t get discouraged when you get rejected! Even the most successful writers and journalists in the world know what it’s like to be shot down. But, as Sherlock Holmes always said, when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, is undeniably within your grasp.